November 9, 2015


Politico, CNN and the struggle over Ben Carson's credibility (David Zurawik, 11/06/15, Baltimore Sun)

My brother went to West Point during the era Carson would have attended, so I know the process of admission in the 1960s very well. You applied through a formal process for an appointment from your congressperson or senator. If you're admitted, the government pays all expenses.

My brother was an "A" student and all-state quarterback coveted by both West Point and Annapolis. Nevertheless, he had to go through a formal application process and get a nomination from one of our congresspersons or senators. He got two: one to the Naval Academy and one to West Point. 

It's pretty clear to me Carson at least exaggerated his connection to West Point in his book. It sounds like someone in Detroit told him he could get help him get a scholarship, and that became an actual offer of one in the candidate's telling.

But it also looks like Politico erred in hanging its report on the claim that Carson's campaign admitted he lied. Did Politico not consider that campaign officials might later obfuscate or outright deny once they saw the words "Carson" and "lied" rocketing through cyberspace in the same headlines?

By the end of the day, Carson's campaign "clarified" the candidate's claim on a scholarship to say he was never offered one.

The question you might ask at this point: Isn't that what Politico originally said? Didn't Politico say Carson claimed in his book to have been offered a scholarship, but that wasn't true?

Yes, but Politico also said the campaign confirmed the candidate's claim was a lie, which the campaign said never happened.

Welcome to the world of political obfuscation, spin and counterspin. Carson's campaign walked back the candidate's claim in his book, even as it called Politico a liar for saying it was not true. Nifty piece of footwork, no?

The easiest thing to accept in this whole kerfuffle is that the good Doctor's campaign would both confirm and deny.

Posted by at November 9, 2015 1:35 PM